Cycle Art Reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews Cycle Art Review Centre Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:30:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Bike fitting-is it worth it? http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/bike-fitting-is-it-worth-it/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/bike-fitting-is-it-worth-it/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:30:36 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=460 GIANT_POWERFIT Bike fitting seems to be the latest buzz word in the trade and cycling media right now and its about time too. Here at Cycle Art/Giant Newcastle we have been strong advocates of bike fitting for many years with in excess of 1500 fits carried out in that time. Our knowledge of bike fitting is constantly evolving and something we look to keep up to date with continued learning, training and research. We have also recently employed local bike fitter and physical therapist Nev Martin who comes with an excellent reputation for his bike fitting skills.
So what is a bike fit? What we strive to do is make the bike for you rather than you fit the bike. We will look at past injury history, what you are using the bike for, how experienced a rider you are, posture, occupation and most importantly of all look at you on your bike. We can also use the technology offered by Wattbike to look at your pedal stroke and see if there are any tips we can offer to help you become more efficient. If you would like to see what is involved come along to the shop and we can show you what we do.
This is supposed to be a review site however rather than a description of our products and services and it wouldnt be right for us to review our own service. What follows is an email from two of our customers who were fitted on bikes that they bought from us earlier this year.

“Hi all at Giant and Cycle Art,
Just wanted to say a big thank you to all of you for the great service you have given us since we decided to buy our bike with you.
The choosing of the bike and then the bike fit which was pretty much perfect.
And then the advice on my own bike, which has turned out to be the best thing I ever did with regards Cycling and it is only the advice Chris gave re obtaining the best frame to suit me for my use.
The results for me were instantaneous as I was at home on the bike in the position Chris set it up at. I have had issues with saddles and when I returned the bike yesterday for a last quick service, which was done as quickly as promised, Nev re adjusted the bike, after my fiddling about, back to where Chris had it in the first place with a new saddle and post.
He made a few minor corrections to my wifes position, which truth be told she found funny at the time as she was used to extending her leg more, but I am sure once she settles to it she will benefit.
Next week the bikes will be packed up and shipped out to our new life in the South Island of New Zealand, we are going to miss the lanes of Northumberland and the cycling community that is out there in numbers and mostly friendly. Oh and I will miss the bacon butties.
After a shaky start she is now a really good cyclist and on Strava easily in the top 10/20 of Women and she is a demon on hills, who leaves me for dead ( must loose weight

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Castelli Gabba Jacket http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/castelli-gabba-jacket-2/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/castelli-gabba-jacket-2/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:06:23 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=291 0012778_castelli_gabba_ws_long_sleeve_full_zip_jerseyWhy do the pros wear black jackets when the weather turns against them-which it has a lot this year? Because many of them are wearing the Gabba from Castelli with the logos removed so as not to upset the team sponsors. The Gabba range was developed in conjunction the the Garmin/Cervelo pros and inspired by team rider Gabriel Rasch-hence the name. There are several different versions from gilets to full jackets and they are available in stylish black or an eye wateringly bright yellow.

As I ride every day in all weathers to work and back I went for the eye wateringly bright yellow version. One thing I have learned over the years is that when it comes to quality winter kit spend as much as you dare as it really does make a difference. A good jacket or decent pair of winter tights can make the difference between a ride being a cold miserable experience and a surprisingly enjoyable one.
So onto the jacket. Lets get the biggest issue out of the way first-the price. £185 is a lot of money by anyone’s standards for what appears to be a simple garment so is it worth it? In my view yes.

This jacket is so good you might actually ride your bike more than if you didn’t own one. The fabric is a very soft and stretchy soft-shell from Gore called Windstopper X-Lite Plus. It is remarkably breathable with some simple but well place zip up vents if you over heat. The cut is very fitted-more on that in a minute- so if you pull down the YKK zip to cool off it does not flap about in the breeze or inflate like a balloon. The fabric sheds water very well so well the pockets need drains, and appears to be impervious to wind. By layering with an appropriate base layer it should be good for a wide range of temperatures. So far I have used mine from 4-12 degrees Celsius with either a short sleeved base layer or longer one for chilly days.

Other nice details are the dropped tail to keep your backside dry but you do use mudguards dont you? The hem is lined with scotcthlite tape for added visibility. If we are being picky and at £185 we need to be a bit more reflective detailing would be nice. The pockets in the back have little holes in the bottom to work as drains so good is the waterproofing. There are vented panels under the arms to let heat out and the seams are not sealed so it couldn’t be described as fully waterproof but I can’t see even the best waterproofs out performing this.

There are two other issues with the jacket. First of all is sizing. I wear a large and at 5ft 8″ and 11 stone I’m no Clydesdale so try before you buy. The other issue is availability. These jackets are hard to get so if you see one and you really want one buy it. We have some more coming but they are in very short supply.

So its expensive, no frills, a very snug fit and hard to get hold of. None of that stops this being a superb garment. Its rapidly becoming my favourite bit of winter kit. Buy one, you wont regret it.

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Sabbath September Disc Prototype http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/sabbath-september-disc-prototype/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/sabbath-september-disc-prototype/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 13:46:40 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=423 September DiscAs the lucky buyer of the final prototype, pre-production disc braked version of the Sabbath September light touring bike, I believe this will very likely be the first review so I will keep it fairly succinct. I’m sure the use of too many superlatives would be tedious anyway.

The logics of producing a titanium disc brake equipped touring/winter bike are in my opinion “no-brainers”. Keeping the mechanics of braking away from the rims is already proven in the mountain bike world to do several very useful things. Firstly, it makes for powerful and modular braking and at this point it is worth noting that this bike has an oversized lower headset bearing which provides a rock solid front end under the pressures of that increased braking power. Secondly, it prevents the water and dirt from having that erosive effect on your precious rims meaning that you can fit nicer wheels knowing that they will last a lot longer. And finally, free from the restrictions imposed by rim brake calipers, it has the added bonus of making for a frame with massive mudguard clearance. This means that can not only run larger diameter tyres (well above 28mm in my estimation) but also it makes it very easy to achieve a rattle free fit which is often an annoyance on other frames.

That covered, it is sufficient in my opinion to sat that this September Disc has all the usual great qualities associated with a well made titanium frame – it is torsionally stiff and has just the right amount of vertical compliance to make for a lovely ride. Many reviews of the rim braked September already exist and they remain relevant when applied to this. I would recommend this bike to anyone and believe it will be a great success.

Specifications of my build:

Sabbath September Disc Frame
Kinesis carbon fork
Shimano 105 Drivetrain
Handbuilt Mavic Open Pro rims on Hope hubs
TRP Spyre cable operated disc brakes
Pro PLT bars and stem
4ZA carbon seatpost
Fizik Arione saddle
Tortec Reflector mudguards
Keo pedals

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Stages Powermeter Review Part 1 http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/stages-powermeter-review-part-1/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/stages-powermeter-review-part-1/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 12:17:54 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=413 crankpile1Cycling as a sport has undergone many innovations over the years – the derailleur, materials such as aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre, aero bars, suspension, hydraulic braking, and even electronic shifting. When it comes to training and racing however, arguably the biggest change in the modern era of the sport is the powermeter.

Despite being commonplace in the pro peleton, powermeters are still an expensive (and complicated) endeavour with only the most enthusiastic amateurs using them, but there are many benefits to be gained by using a powermeter for training and racing with.

There are quite a few options on the market now, at different price points with different installation points on the bike – with crank based systems, pedal based systems and rear hub based systems being the most prevalent at the moment. American company Stages is the new boy on the scene is by far and away the most simple – and with prices from £599 also the cheapest – of all the current systems available. It is also the powermeter of choice for Team Sky for the 2014 season.

The Stages system is based around the non-drive side crank, and starts life as a stock crank arm from either Shimano, SRAM, FSA or Cannondale. A strain gauge array (as found in other manufacturers’ powermeters) and an accelerometer (the technology that senses you tilt your smart phone and change the screen orientation accordingly) are housed in a small unit weighing 20g that is bonded to the inside of the crank arm. A replaceable battery (type CR2032 – commonly used in calculators) is hidden behind a simple coin twist cover.

Installation
As a SRAM user, I opted for the SRAM Rival version. At present, Stages doesn’t work with carbon crank arms (carbon doesn’t provide a consistent deflection curve say Stages), so the company has opted to use the alloy Rival arm for their SRAM version.

As with all of the Stages powermeters, the Stages replaces the existing non-drive side crank arm without changing the bottom bracket or drive side crank. In the case of the SRAM Rival GXP version, you remove the self extracting non-drive side crank arm and then fit the Stages crank arm on in it’s place. The whole process takes about 10 minutes and is easily done at home. The benefit here is that provided your training bike and race bike have the same bottom bracket standard, you can swap from bike to bike relatively quickly.

Garmin Edge 510Stages does not need a proprietary head unit, and instead uses both ANT+ and Bluetooth standards to communicate with 3rd party devices. This further keeps the cost down, as you can use your existing ANT+ computer (provided it has the capability to display and record power that is). As I have the new Garmin Edge 510, I was ready to roll. And that’s it – no magents, no sensors, no extra hardware – just the crank arm and a Garmin and the bike now has the same power measurement system as Team Sky. It’s just a shame I don’t have legs like theirs.

Getting to grips with power
There are those who have been using power for years, and have a vast expanse of knowledge when it comes to measuring and interpreting power. This section is not for you. As someone who has never used power before (other than a WattBike test and a few lab tests on the VeloTron bikes at Northumbria University) I am well and truly a novice. For me, just seeing numbers appearing on the screen was a novelty.

First up, the powermeter needs what is called a “zero reset”. Stages say there is no need to do this before every ride, but there is no harm in doing so. To zero the Stages, you simply set the cranks perpendicular to the floor at use the Garmin head unit to perform the zero reset. It takes a few seconds and then you’re ready to go. Unlike other systems, there is no need to zero the until whilst out on a ride.

Numbers, numbers, numbers
Once pedalling, the power figures begin to display on the Garmin instantly, as does the cadence. If you’re planning on using the Stages on a turbo trainer, you will still need a Garmin speed/cadence sensor on the back, as Stages obviously doesn’t measure speed.

The Garmin Edge 510 offers a range of figures to display, and you can customise your training pages on the Edge accordingly. On my power training page for example, I have average power for 10 seconds, average power for 30 seconds, average power, time elapsed, heart rate, average heart rate and cadence. It might not be worthwhile to everyone having the current power figure on there, as it varies greatly second to second.

In terms of recording the data (we’ll not go into understanding, analysing, or training here – there are plenty of resources available on the Internet and if you are that serious, consider a coach) there are various pieces of software you can use. Garmin’s own Garmin Connect records power data, as does Strava. There are also software options such as Training Peaks (both offline and online) and Golden Cheetah, all of which allow you to download and analyse your data.

Downsides
To produce a powermeter so cheaply, there have obviously been some sacrifices. The first is the nature of the way Stages measures power. As it has just the one side measuring power, it doubles the power reading from the left leg. This assumes that both legs are pumping out the same wattage, which is a massive assumption. However, the variation between two legs is realistically not that drastic that the power readings aren’t usable, especially if you only have access to one powermeter all the time.

The other criticism is not necessarily down to the Stages unit itself, but is aimed at ANT+ and Garmin. ANT+ powermeters transmit 4 data packets a second, but the Garmin only picks up 1 of these packets. This makes is very difficult to precisely compare one powermeter to another as two Stages side by side would display different data. An SRM for example picks up all the data sent from the powermeter, making it arguably more accurate – but for a massive price difference.

Conclusions so far
Make no mistake, I am not a power expert. This is my first forray into training with power, but Stages appears to be the perfect way for a beginner to get into training with power. It’s cheap (relatively speaking), easy to install, and a lot less fuss that some of the systems out there. I have heard nightmares about battery usage but so far I have not experienced this. I also have no other powermeters to compare figures with, so I cannot report accuracy in comparison with for instance a Quarq. I do roughly know what my power output is from the university tests, and was pleased to see the expected numbers appearing on the Garmin.

As a newcomer, Stages has so far offered an insight into my training and fitness that has otherwise been missing. Time will tell how reliable and consistent the Stages remains, but so far I am impressed.

In the next part of the review, I will be looking into the technology used by Stages, what the long term performance is like, an any issues I might encounter.

Prices start at £599 for a SRAM Rival GXP model / Shimano 105 up to £799 for Dura-Ace models.

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Cateye Volt 1200 Review http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/cateye-volt-1200-review/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/cateye-volt-1200-review/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 13:30:05 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=390 The best way to decide what to spend on lights seems to be:

1. Think of a number that scares you.
2. Double it.

All joking aside, the more you spend on lights, the better, especially if you’re going to be commuting on unlit roads and paths.

Light technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Not so long ago, to achieve the sort of power discussed in this review, you would need a bar mounted headlamp with trailing wires and an off board battery attached elsewhere on the bike. Advances in both battery and LED technology means that these days we can pack high output lights into smaller, lighter packages, which can be directly mounted onto the handlebar (or helmet). Furthermore, manufacturers have moved away from proprietary connections and wiring looms and fallen into line with the rest of the electronics industry by using USB connectors. This means that if you lose or misplace your charger, you probably already have a compatible charger from another device you own, and you can charge the lights on a PC or Mac at work.

Cateye Volt 1200

The Cateye Volt 1200 sits at the top of the Japanese company’s range of rechargeable LED headlights, bashing out a claimed 1200 lumens output. It achieves this using 2 super bright LEDs and clever use of optics (although the distributor told us that all the LEDs they use are rated at 300 lumens and therefore the claimed output is achieved using optics). Regardless of how they’ve done it – this thing is bright.

The unit itself appears well built. Visually speaking, this isn’t a Lezyne, by any stretch of the imagination. The 1200 is very Japanese – more about function than form – and certainly doesn’t have an aesthetic that would suggest it is a £150 product. It’s build quality confirms that it is a premium product, as does the quality of packaging (something electronic companies are learning from Apple – from a customer experience standpoint, packaging is now as important as the product itself).

Mounting the light is simple. No tools are required – simply wrap the FlexTight bracket around the bars and screw the plastic tightener closed. The light then slides on from the front until you hear and feel a positive click, and you’re done. To remove, there is a small button on the bottom of the light that releases it from the FlexTight bracket. There is also a helmet mount available – although I personally think this light might be a little heavy for helmet use.

Charging the Volt 1200As mentioned, charging is simple. The micro USB port is hidden behind a rubber gromit (which protects the internals from the elements) and a full charge takes 8 to 14 hours. An 80% charge is achieved in 10 hours. I find plugging the light in as soon as I returned home is enough to ensure the following morning the 1200 is ready to roll.

In the dark
My commute is split into 2 very different segments. On the way home at night for instance, the first section is bike path. It is unlit, rough, and frequented by other cyclists, dog walkers and joggers. The second section is busy main roads, all uphill, and has almost every obstacle the department of transport could throw at a cyclist.

Setting off, with my breath turning to mist in the cold night air and the moon peering from behind wispy Autumn clouds, I plunge down into the all consuming pitch black of a forested track just off the main road outside work. My senses take a couple of seconds to adapt, but the Volt 1200′s beam pattern is wide enough to give me a good sense of the path ahead even if my side vision is hampered by the darkness. Once adjusted, the 1200 lights up enough of the trail for my to pick a line confidently, albeit not quite at the same speed I would during daylight hours. Once through the initial forested area, I hit a small section of road and then onto a cycle path that takes me over a disused railway bridge, through a tunnel, over a village green, and then alongside a golf course – all unlit. Over the bridge visibility is already reasonable due to light pollution, but once under the cover of trees it is again pitch black – particularly through the tunnel. Again, the 1200 lights the way more than competently, and at no point am I concerned over what might be ahead. The beam pattern is such that even when the 1200 is pointing towards the floor, enough light is cast in front to ensure you can see what’s coming before it’s too late. The only issue I found was other path users – the light is too bright for them to see, so I have to cover the unit with my hand until they pass.

Comparisons on dirt path
Volt 300 on full power:
Volt 300 on path

Competitor 900 lumen light on full power:
900 lumen competitor

Volt 1200 on full power:
Volt 1200 on path

Comparisons on unlit road
Volt 300 on full power:
Volt 300 road

Competitor 900 lumen light on full power:
Competitor 900 lumen on road

Volt 1200 on full power:
Volt 1200 on road

The second part of my commute is more about being seen than seeing. The roads are well lit, there is plenty of traffic, and the Volt 1200 is actually too bright at 1200 lumens to be used in conjunction with traffic. Instead, tone the 1200 down to hyperconstant (that means a constant medium output combined with an awesome, headache inducing flash) and traffic is well aware of you.

In terms of run time, Cateye quotes the following:

Dynamic mode:approx 2hrs
Normal mode:approx 5hrs
All-Night mode: approx 17.5hrs
Hyper Constant mode:approx 14.5hrs
Flashing mode: approx 100hrs

In normal use, it’s difficult to confirm these figures. On the path, I run the full 1200 lumens mode, and on the road the hyper constant mode. The light lasts about 2 days worth of commuting when used like this – approximately 2 and a half hours ride time.

Conclusions
All in all, I am very impressed with the Volt 1200. Visually, it doesn’t look different to budget lights, which in terms of anti-theft might be a good thing, but you don’t feel you are buying into anything special (say for instance compared to a Lezyne Deca Drive or Mega Drive). However, once you are past the ordinary looks, there isn’t much to mark the Volt 1200 down on. It’s super bright, has a wide yet full beam pattern, is suitable for unlit situations and in traffic or built up areas, is easy to mount/dismount and charge, and seems to live up to the expectations placed on it from the manufacturer’s specifications.

If you are looking for a high output light without breaking the bank, this is the obvious choice. A great light from Cateye and one that will be staying on my bike.

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Ridley Orion Review http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/ridley-orion-review/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/ridley-orion-review/#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 15:02:56 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=349 Ridley Orion at Cap de Formentor, MallorcaRidley bikes of Belgium are perhaps best known for their Noah range of aero bikes and their wide range of cyclo cross bikes, but a very popular model in their range is the Orion. The Orion sits in what Ridley call their “Endurance” range (as opposed to “Aero” or “Stiffness to Weight”), and are the cheapest carbon road bikes in their range. At just over £1500 for the C10 105 version, there are cheaper carbon road bikes on the market, but this is a good price point to examine exactly what you can get for your money from a big brand name as opposed to a web based company.

The Orion’s proving ground would be the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca, a playground for roadies that was once referred to by Bradley Wiggins as “Scalextric for Cyclists”. A million miles from the drunken nightlife of Magaluf or the packed tourist beaches to the South of the Island, the real Mallorca has to be seen to be believed. Through the centre of the island are picturesque, winding country roads making their way through endless vineyards, agricultural land, windmills and tiny, traditional towns and villages barely touched by tourism. Running from the South West to the North East of the island is the stunning Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, through which snakes multiple climbs worthy of any cyclist’s bucket list, including the infamous and daunting Sa Calobra, a 10km / 668 metre climb with 26 hairpin bends from sea level up to the peak of Col de Reis.

Ridley OrionFirst impressions of the Orion is that it’s not the lightest bike in the world. A quick scan over the bike reveals the reasons why – Fulcrum 7 wheels, the lower end of 4ZA (Ridley’s own brand) finishing kit, and a Shimano 105 groupset. The frame itself isn’t designed to be an ultra light race frame either – it’s built from the slightly lower grade 24 ton modulus carbon fibre (which usually requires more raw material to hit the required strength & stiffness). Put all this together and we have a bike that tips the scales at 19lbs in the XXS size. However, to mark the Orion down on weight alone would be unfair – the Orion is designed and specced to hit a price point, which it does admirably.

Out on the Mallorcan roads the Orion’s 19lb weight isn’t an issue. You find within the first few miles of riding the budget Ridley that it is a proper road racing bicycle, and despite it’s endurance tag, this bike is designed with going fast in mind. Despite this, I wanted to test it’s credentials as an endurance bike as that’s how Ridley markets it, so a long day in the saddle was called for – touring the Island’s villages from North to South with a lunchtime of reflection in the quiet town of Petra.

Ridley Orion in Campanet, MallorcaFor the most part, Mallorca’s roads are silky smooth, mainly due to the fairer winter weather and regular resurfacing. That’s not to say all the roads are good – some minor roads are little better than tracks, and the roads from Campanet to the wine producing town of Binissalem (via Moscari, Biniamar, and Lloseta) serve as a great place to test the comfort of a bike. The Orion does a reasonable job of smoothing out the road chatter, poor road surface and smaller potholes, about what you would expect for this price point. There are other bikes available that offer more comfort, but they would lose out heavily to the Ridley Orion in other areas.

Once onto the smoother roads, the Orion becomes an extremely competent cruiser. The front end isn’t overly responsive, which makes for a predictable and confident ride, but as I discovered later, it is still twitchy enough to give you a fright if you don’t give it the respect it deserves. The miles that were built up on the Orion over the smooth roads around the fruit groves, vineyards and through the sleepy Mallorcan villages were proving to be pleasant ones, and I was really enjoying my time on the Ridley.

Petra, MallorcaAt Petra, I took time to give the bike a good look over. The great thing about the Ridley is, unlike a lot of lower priced carbon frame bikes, this isn’t what’s called an “open mould”. An open mould is a frame mould owned by a factory, and frames from it can be sold to any company who wants to paint and retail them, and is a very cheap way of getting frames to market. It’s important to remember that not all carbon frames are created equal. As with all Ridleys, the Belgian company has designed the Orion themselves, and the pedigree shows. The frame uses Ridley’s trademark diamond shaped downtube and toptube, which is not only intended to increase stiffness but also side impact strength, and also gives the bike a visual presence rarely found in budget carbon frames. The seatstay is a rear monostay that meets massive boxy chainstays, presumably designed to retain lateral stiffness whilst providing the comfort required of an endurance bike. As expected at this price, cable routing is external with a screw in bottom bracket and a alloy steerer tube on the carbon fork. My particular bike had a unidirectional carbon finish, but the bike is available in the UK in black or white. All in all, the Orion is a handsome looking bike, and visually doesn’t try too hard.

Ridley Orion diamond downtubeA couple of days later, I would take the opportunity to test the bike’s ability to climb. With sore legs from 2 long days in the saddle, and with only a morning to spare, I’d use the time to take the 40 mile ride from our base in Alcanada to Cap de Formentor and back. The ride to the Cap is very popular as it is challenging without requiring an entire day to complete and takes in stunning views of the Balearic Sea and Cala Figuera bay, with the reward of coffee and cake at the lighthouse at Far de Formentor looking out over the Med. It’s a ride I usually do on my first day of a week’s training in Mallorca, as it gives me a short but valuable opportunity to find my climbing legs. Climbing from Pollensa to the view point at Formentor is usually a good indicator of two things – firstly how my legs are and secondly how well my hire bike climbs. My legs weren’t great – this wasn’t a pleasant re-introduction to climbing. The bike, whilst it predictably lacked the urgency of more expensive race bikes, was plenty stiff enough to transfer pedal power into forward motion with no real drama. There was no noticeable deflection in the bottom bracket area, and when I needed to get out of the saddle the bike responded well. The real problem with the bike is the wheels – at over 2kg without tyres, the Fulcrum 7s aren’t the best choice for climbing, and I could feel the wheels bogging the bike down whenever the road pointed upwards. Over the first climb, I zipped my jersey up, got out of the saddle and accelerated for the descent. The Orion had lulled me into a false sense of security on the flatlands, as the front end that had been a bit lazy on the flat suddenly became twitchy and light downhill. I soon found myself weaving around the cars and hitting the corners at speed, with my confidence in the Orion building with every turn. Again, lighter wheels would have made the Orion even more competent here. Over the second climb my initial thoughts were confirmed – the Orion is a very a competent climber that is stifled by the wheel choice.

At the Cap, I again took time to appreciate the subtle looks of the Ridley Orion, and found that it was attracting admiring glances from other riders (especially those who were riding Centurion hire bikes from the island’s largest tour operator). I had really begun to enjoy riding the Orion, and considered what I would change if the bike was mine. Obviously, the wheels would go. The Shimano 105 groupset had performed as expected, without fault, if a little uninteresting to look at. An upgrade to a set of Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels would turn the bike into a completely different machine, one worthy of a place in my bike room. The other immediate change would be the saddle. Saddles are obviously very personal, but I had found the 4ZA saddle to be nothing but uncomfortable, and certainly not up to long days in the saddle.

Ridley Orion C10The Orion then is something of a find. In standard build, it represents a real bargain, and would be a fantastic upgrade for someone with an aluminium bike looking to make their first foray into the world of carbon fibre. More than that though, it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, with a frameset that punches way above it’s weight and budget. At this price point there are “Internet bikes” with better overall specifications (which can be misleading to customers who assume that means a better bike), but Ridley has really done it’s homework with the design of the frame and forks. Ultimately, that’s where your money is going and there aren’t many frames that get close to the Orion at this price.

Ridley Orion C20At £1500 for a 105 equipped race bike with a proper carbon fibre frame, you can’t go wrong. As an entry point into carbon, the Orion has every box ticked, and as an ongoing investment, there’s plenty of room for upgrades that are worthy of the quality chassis, starting with the wheels and saddle. Ridley also offer a slightly cheaper version of the Orion called the Orion C20, equipped with a Tiagra groupset and 4ZA wheels for £1325.00.

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Tortec Reflector Mudguards http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/tortec-reflector-mudguards/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/tortec-reflector-mudguards/#comments Fri, 25 Oct 2013 12:29:32 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=339 Tortec ReflectorMudguards.

Fairly uninteresting. Not at all sexy. They’re not going to get admiring glances on a club run. You’re not going to brag about them on Facebook or Twitter. In the world of carbon fibre and anodized alloy cycling accessories, mudguards do not rank highly on people’s Christmas wish lists.

Until recently, I was one of the anti-mudguard brigade. In my head, mudguards add weight, are noisy and rattly, look unsightly, are a pain to fit and maintain, make you look old fashioned, and don’t really do much in the way of protecting you – at the end of the day if it’s raining, you’re going to get wet. Whilst some of those points of view remain valid, since riding with mudguards, I’ve seen the light (well, mainly the rain actually).

The Tortec Reflectors are Bicycle Repair Man and Cycle Art’s mudguard of choice when building winter bikes for customers. Countless Sabbath Septembers and Ridley Crossobows go out the door with these fitted. For bikes without eyelets, we do spec the SKS Raceblades but in general, when we talk ‘guards, we mean Tortec Reflectors.

Firstly, at £35, they’re not expensive. For a Yorkshire man, that’s always a good start. Secondly, they are made from what Tortec call Chromo-Tec, which they claim is virtually unbreakable. Thirdly, all the fixtures and fittings are stainless steel to prevent corrosion – which up here is a very good thing. Chuck in a rear Cateye reflector, a front mud flap, Nyloc nuts (they don’t work their way loose with time), a choice of black or silver, and reflective stripes down the sides for night time visibility and you’ve got a serious piece of kit for the money.

Fitting them is relatively straight forward (even more simple if the workshop do it for you), although disc brakes can make the fitment slightly more time consuming. Note – Reflector ‘guards don’t work with suspension forks.

Size wise, Tortec have 5 sizes available:

26 x 1.0 – 1.5
26 x 1.6 – 2.1
700 x 20 – 26
700 x 27 – 35
700 x 36 – 44

Once fitted, my initial preconceptions of looking unsightly changed. I actually quite liked the look of them. They made the bike look fit for purpose, if a little utilitarian. Weight wise, the Reflectors weigh some 500g, so a fair chunk of weight is being added to the bike. However, if I was to see an advantage to the weight, I was willing to forgive this (especially considering my own additional weight)! The quality of build, materials used, and the extensive use of Nyloc bolts meant the rattling was also a preconception proved wrong. In reality, the mudguards looked pretty good, were quiet in operation, and in the couple of months I have had them they haven’t worked their way loose over the considerably rough terrain they are used on almost daily.
Tortec Reflectors fitted to a Ridley X-Bow
On the road, I instantly discovered the benefits. I had become so used to returning from a rainy ride absolutely soaked, with wet and mud up my back and the bike absolutely caked in mud, grit and road traffic film. Don’t get me wrong, you will still get wet from being out in the rain, but you are protected from water from the road, so puddles and mud do not affect you as they would without ‘guards. The people you ride with will also thank you, as they will not be receiving a face full of salty spray when they ride behind you.

At night time these guards add a much needed element of visibility, with the sides lighting up in car headlights. The reflector on the rear is also very useful.

A couple of things to note – firstly watch out for toe overlap – if you already have toe overlap on your bike, the Reflectors increase this overlap. Secondly, whilst the front ‘guard has a mudflap, the rear one doesn’t – although it is relatively easy to create your own using an old pop bottle. Finally, if you ride in the mud a lot, remember to clear the guards out once in a while with a hose – the mud build up will eventually clog up.

In conclusion, I am a mudguard convert. Mudguards just make sense in the winter. Your bike stays cleaner (and therefore lasts longer), you stay dryer, your friends stay dryer, and you’re more visible to motorists. There’s nothing really bad to say about the Tortec Reflectors, they do what they are supposed to do with very little fuss and are relatively inexpensive. If you ride with a club, there’s no excuse – think about the people you ride with.

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Castelli Misto Waterpoof Shell http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/castelli-misto-waterpoof-shell/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/castelli-misto-waterpoof-shell/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:22:05 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=331 Castelli Misto in blackLike most people, I don’t like spending money on things I don’t want or need, or worse, things that I do need that aren’t particularly interesting. Petrol, for instance. I hate putting petrol in the car. It’s ridiculously expensive, in mostly tax, and usually I’m putting it in because I have no option but to use the car (I’d rather be cycling).

Another thing I don’t like spending money on is Winter cycling clothes. Ideally, I’d spend every day on the climbs in Mallorca, with shorts and short sleeve jerseys, working on my cycling tan. Unfortunately, I’m British, not a pro, and that’s not an option. I have to face the elements, as up in Northumberland it seems to be always either raining, snowing or blowing me around the country roads with gale force winds.

For commuting, I have my usual reflective, high vis clobber from Endura. It’s great for my daily ride, it keeps me warm and dry, and drivers can see me. However, for club runs and training rides, the Endura stuff is too much like commuter clothing or something you’d wear to do the C2C. What I wanted was a waterproof shell that would go over my long sleeve jersey to keep me dry on a Sunday club run.

Step up the Castelli Misto jacket. I could have bought myself a clear white Endura jacket for half the price, but in my mind, if I *have* to buy a waterproof shell, it might as well be a stylish one.

The Misto is available in two colourways, the black and fluo yellow version, and the all black version I opted for. Both versions have reflective stripes throughout.

Castelli describe the Misto as follows:

Don’t let the threat of rain keep you from riding—or, even worse, make you ride your trainer. We’ve used our exceptional high-stretch but lightweight Torrent waterproof fabric and engineered a seam-sealed jacket that easily stuffs in a jersey pocket. It will keep you totally dry from the outside, and the stretch fit makes it comfortable and aero. You will give up some breathability compared to our Pocket Liner or Muur jackets, but this is the ideal jacket to bring along when rain threatens.

Quite.

For £110 you get a lightweight rain jacket that’s waterproof (taped seams keep the water out nicely), folds into a pocket with reasonable ease (I say reasonable – it’s difficult to fold an XXXL garment of any kind down into a small package), it’s comfortable, reasonably windproof and looks pretty good too.

Misto in yellowAs the weather gradually worsens, this might not be the ideal jacket for club runs, but for late Autumn, early Winter and Spring (and maybe even Summer knowing Northumberland) this is a great jacket. Breathability isn’t brilliant (although still better than my Endura Gridlock) and for those worried about visibility the fluo yellow version might be a better choice. It’s also not the best choice if you’re proud of your club colours and want to show off your jersey even in the rain – the Sottille Due is the choice for you then.

I actually love this jacket. I had originally wanted the Sottille Due as I like the pro look of being able to see your club jersey, but there were no XXXL in stock, so I opted for the more expensive Misto instead, and I am glad I did. The Misto has a wider operating temperature (8-20 degrees as opposed to the Sottille’s 10-18), and looks a bit more Castelli-like than the plain white Sottille. The fit is good, even on a big lad like me, and the materials used, as you would expect with Castelli, are very good quality. It is clearly intended as a emergency layer, as it has no rear pocket. This is a small issue in the grand scheme of things, as keeping my phone and cash in my jersey pocket under the Misto ensures everything is dry.

I found that on a long ride I got sweaty underneath the jacket, and after the cafe stop it took some time to warm up again, but in all fairness I’d feel like that on a dry day anyway. I can’t really fault the Misto, as it really does do what it says on the tin, but with the style and flair that only Castelli can pull off.

A big thumbs up then for the Castelli Misto. Let’s hope I don’t need it much.

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Lezyne Micro Drive LED lights http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/lezyne-micro-drive-led-lights/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/lezyne-micro-drive-led-lights/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:57:57 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=320 Lezyne Micro Drive FrontLezyne is a relatively new name to cycling, having been founded in 2007. In just 6 years, founder Micki Kozuschek (formerly of Truvativ) has taken the German company from strength to strength, making it one of the industry’s premium bicycle component and tool manufacturers. One of Lezyne’s key product ranges is their LED lights.

Sitting right in the middle of Lezyne’s LED range is the Micro Drive. Designed to be a light that increases your visibility rather than being a high output light for commuting on unlit country lanes, the Micro Drive is also a good choice as a secondary light to accompany a high output front lamp, or as a backup light.

The Micro Drive pairing would be all the average commuter needs, or could form the basis of a light set for a commuter who rides on unlit roads (the missing parts being a high output front light and a small back up rear light).

At £40 for the 200 lumen front light and £40 for the 70 lumen rear light, £80 might seem quite steep for a pair of lights compared to similarly rated Japanese lights, so what sets these apart from the competition?

The first and most obvious difference is build quality. These aren’t cheap looking plastic lights. These are made from aluminium, which acts as a heat sink for the high powered LEDs. This helps dissipate the heat created by the LEDs and prevents them from overheating. There’s nothing worse than having to stop riding because your LED has overheated.

Mounting System for the Micro DriveThe next difference is the mounting. Rather than using fiddly plastic brackets that need screwing in place, the Lezynes use rubber O-rings that not only ensure the lights go on and off quickly (useful if your winter bike is also your club ride bike and don’t want lights on all the time) but also keeps the lights well in place, especially when it’s wet or the going gets rough.

Finally, and whilst this doesn’t affect the performance of the product it does demonstrate Lezyne’s attention to detail, the packaging is well thought out and looks great – making the overall customer experience more rewarding than the lower priced lights.

USB ChargerCharging the Lezynes is super simple – unscrew the rear (which has a rubber seal to keep the internals dry) and plug the entire light into a USB socket or USB charger. A few hours later the light is charged and ready to go. This means the light can be charged at home overnight or in the office during the day – so there’s no excuse for a flat battery! In terms of monitoring the battery, a quick press of the power button will make it light up in either red, orange or green, giving an indication of how much life is left.

Out and about, the Micro Drives do exactly what they say on the packaging. The front light is rated at 200 lumens, and whilst I have no reason to doubt this, it is suitable really as a light for visibility purposes and putting a reasonable amount of light out in front. Pointed down, it lights up a few feet of the road, and pointed forward it makes you extremely visible. The beam pattern is focused to quite a small area though, so don’t expect the road to be floodlit in front of you. The rear light does a very good job, although the Zecto Drive rear is probably a better all round choice.

The front light has 6 modes – ranging from a 200 lumen “Overdrive” mode where battery life is rated at just an hour, down to a flashing mode where the battery is claimed to last 4 and a half hours. I found that the Micro Drive is most useful for my purposes in “Enduro” mode – which rated at 100 lumens you can realistically expect a couple of hours usage.

Micro Drive RearThe rear light has various modes including a constant beam at 70 lumens which lasts 2 and a half hours, a low 5 lumen setting that will last 16 hours, and 3 different flashing modes.

The Micro Drive is available in black or silver, and is sold either individually or as a pair. All in all these are great lights, and I use the Micro Drive as my helmet/back up light and as a constant beam on the rear. There are cheaper lights available, but when it comes to lights I have discovered that if you buy cheap, you buy twice. A big thumbs up to the Micro Drives, they are an important part of my commuter.

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Castelli Gabba Jacket http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/castelli-gabba-jacket/ http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/castelli-gabba-jacket/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 09:00:38 +0000 reviews http://cycle-art.co.uk/reviews/?p=311 Black GabbaWhy do the pros wear black jackets when the weather turns against them-which it has a lot this year? Because many of them are wearing the Gabba from Castelli with the logos removed so as not to upset the team sponsors. The Gabba range was developed in conjunction the the Garmin/Cervelo pros and inspired by team rider Gabriel Rasch-hence the name. There are several different versions from gilets to full jackets and they are available in stylish black or an eye wateringly bright yellow.

As I ride every day in all weathers to work and back I went for the eye wateringly bright yellow version. One thing I have learned over the years is that when it comes to quality winter kit spend as much as you dare as it really does make a difference. A good jacket or decent pair of winter tights can make the difference between a ride being a cold miserable experience and a surprisingly enjoyable one.
So onto the jacket. Lets get the biggest issue out of the way first-the price. £185 is a lot of money by anyone’s standards for what appears to be a simple garment so is it worth it? In my view yes. This jacket is so good you might actually ride your bike more than if you didn’t own one. The fabric is a very soft and stretchy soft-shell from Gore called Windstopper X-Lite Plus. It is remarkably breathable with some simple but well place zip up vents if you over heat. The cut is very fitted-more on that in a minute- so if you pull down the YKK zip to cool off it does not flap about in the breeze or inflate like a balloon. The fabric sheds water very well so well the pockets need drains, and appears to be impervious to wind. By layering with an appropriate base layer it should be good for a wide range of temperatures. So far I have used mine from 4-12 degrees Celsius with either a short sleeved base layer or longer one for chilly days.

Good enough for the pros...Other nice details are the dropped tail to keep your backside dry but you do use mudguards dont you? The hem is lined with scotcthlite tape for added visibility. If we are being picky and at £185 we need to be a bit more reflective detailing would be nice. The pockets in the back have little holes in the bottom to work as drains so good is the waterproofing. There are vented panels under the arms to let heat out and the seams are not sealed so it couldn’t be described as fully waterproof but I can’t see even the best waterproofs out performing this.

There are two other issues with the jacket. First of all is sizing. I wear a large and at 5ft 8″ and 11 stone I’m no Clydesdale so try before you buy. The other issue is availability. These jackets are hard to get so if you see one and you really want one buy it. We have some more coming but they are in very short supply.

So its expensive, no frills, a very snug fit and hard to get hold of. None of that stops this being a superb garment. Its rapidly becoming my favourite bit of winter kit. Buy one, you wont regret it.

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